Jacksonville, FL - A manatee suffering from an apparent boat strike has died, while en route to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Manatee Critical Care Center.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the manatee is about 9 ½ feet long. She was rescued from the water in the Mayport area with visible injuries that appear to have been caused by a strike from a watercraft.
FWC told us this sweet girl was injured by a boat propeller. One of the biologists on the team told me she weighs about 1100 pounds. While she was rescued in water in the Mayport area...FWC says the call originally came in from the Sisters Creek area. @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/kbcHixLkYn— Courtney Cole (@CourtneyANJax) July 3, 2019
FWC says the manatee was excessively buoyant when she was rescued, and that was likely a result of the strike. That buoyancy can impact the manatee’s ability to dive for food and rest.
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens was prepared to take the manatee in at its Manatee Critical Care Center, but we’re told it died while being transported.
“Our Marine Mammal Response Team assisted FWC in the rescue and did everything we could for the female who was struck by a boat, but it was not enough to get her here for further help. This is all the more reason to encourage boaters to slow down and keep a careful eye out for these animals year-round, especially during the summer,” says a statement from the Zoo’s Deputy Director Dan Maloney.
What an AMAZING group of people from FWC & Jax Zoo & Gardens Volunteers that worked together to get the manatee to safety. 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽➡️ Crews rescue manatee apparently hit by propeller near Mayport https://t.co/Ok8WgcaCMW via @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/NkmKJHyval— Courtney Cole (@CourtneyANJax) July 3, 2019
Curator of Mammals and Marine Mammal Response Team leader Craig Miller says 2018 was a record high year for the number of manatees killed from boat strikes in Florida, with 119. He says it looks like this year is trending even higher.
“We are urging boaters to slow down this summer, wear polarized sunglasses, and stay in deep water whenever possible to minimize manatee strikes,” Miller says.
There are two manatees at the Center right now- BriarRose and Belle. You can see them along the Wild Florida Loop at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.